BALLYMENA Councillor Declan O’Loan has described as “ludicrous and totally unjust” a condition in a private car park within a local retail development which, he says, could see motorists facing a £100 charge if they are detected parking their vehicles in the area and walking off.

Mr O’Loan said: “I have seen the notice put on the windscreen of a motorist who parked in the Braidwater Retail Park demanding £100. He had to leave the car park to get to a toilet. This is ludicrous and totally unjust.

“The man concerned was very distressed before he spoke to me. I have written to the car park company telling them what I think of their rule,” said Mr O’Loan.

The Councillor told The Times he was unsure if the regulation in question governed all or just part of the retail park but said he was referring to an area at the far end of the development towards the town centre where parking control signage had been erected.

The signage he refers to (pictured) points out that there is a three hour maximum stay and states “If you leave this site whilst this vehicle remains in the car park you will be liable to receive a penalty charge”.

The charge, according to the sign, is £100 or £60 if paid within 14 days.

Cllr O’Loan queried: “Are shoppers supposed to go into every car park and search through the fine print of all the different signs in case they are caught out by some unexpected regulation? This has got to an absurd level.”

“I am continuing to work on the whole area of private car parks through Council and through the Department of the Environment who control the Driver and Vehicle Agency. I am making substantial progress through the DOE. I have now also raised the matter with Ballymena Chamber of Commerce who should, I think, be very concerned about the situation,” said Mr O’Loan.

“The retail sector is in enough trouble without this,” he said.

Ballymena Times was unable to contact the parking control company directly for a comment about the matter by the time of going to press.

However, on their website, they state: “We’re in the business of helping the owners and occupiers of private land to protect their property from abusive parking.

Landlords and tenants have the right to reserve parking facilities for legitimate users - whether residents, staff or customers - and to charge people who unfairly take advantage of those facilities.

”By parking at one of the car parks we manage a driver enters into a contract with us. We clearly display the appropriate terms and conditions on the signage at all our sites.”